A series of “incredibly generous” donations has pushed the Helping Neighbors summer fund drive over the $100,000 mark.
“I think it's amazing,” said Family Pantry of Cape Cod Executive Director Christine Menard.
Two $5,000 donations, one anonymous and one from a local woman in memory of her husband, helped bring the campaign to a triumphant conclusion. All of the donations received by the Pantry during the effort were matched by a generous group of South Chatham summer residents who offered the funding in order to encourage seasonal residents and visitors to donate.
Summer residents were certainly inspired to give, Menard said.
“When you think about it, they gave more than $50,000,” she said.
The final total of $101,432 tops $60,000 goal set by The Cape Cod Chronicle. Publisher Henry C. Hyora said he was floored by the generosity of readers who contributed.
“This really shows that people who don't live here full-time definitely have an emotional interest in the well-being of the people who are here year-round and often have to struggle in the off-season,” he said.
Menard agrees that summer residents understand the needs many year-rounders face. “I don't think they would give if they didn't. They get it,” she said.
“And their generosity was there despite a very busy summer,” she added. “They’re here to enjoy, and yet they still open their hearts and their pocketbooks. The community came through.”
The Chronicle usually conducts its Helping Neighbors campaign during the holidays, but last year began a summer offshoot when the Pantry was offered the matching donation challenge. The busy season is traditionally a slow time for donations, and “this kind of helps with the gap during the summer,” Menard said.
While many local residents who depend on the Pantry for food and other necessities are working during the summer – many holding two or three jobs – in the past two years there has been an 18 to 20 percent increase in client visits to the Pantry during the summer. That shows that the high cost of living in the region takes its toll on many who depend on the Pantry for food so that they can pay other bills. The infusion of funds not only helps handle that growing need, but also poises the Pantry for the influx that is sure to come as the fall and winter approach.
“It will just build,” Menard said of the need. “As their hours get reduced more and more, we see more and more of them.”
In addition, the Pantry distributed backpacks to more than 100 area school children, and its Pantry at Cape Cod Community College reopens for the fall semester. Client visits will ramp up as the crowds thin and summer works are either laid off or have their hours cut back.
Is there still a need for the holiday version of Helping Neighbors?
“Oh, yeah,” Menard said. “A third of our fundraising comes in November and December. We really count on the holidays.”
While this summer’s Helping Neighbors campaign has concluded, donations are needed year-round. To contribute, visit www.TheFamilyPantry.com, or send a tax-deductible contribution to The Family Pantry of Cape Cod, 133 Queen Anne Rd., Harwich, MA 02645. For other ways to help, call 508-432-6519.